Fedor von Bock
|Born||3 Dec 1880|
|Died||4 May 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseFedor von Bock was born in Küstrin, Germany, with blood relations (on his mother's side) with former Prussian war minister Erich von Falkenhayn. He completed cadet training in 1898. He was a decorated veteran of WW1 (awarded Pour le Mérite in 1918 for bravery during Picardie offensive) who achieved the rank of major by the end of the war. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he was one of the few officers who was not purged out of the German Army and replaced by Hitler's own supporters. In 1939, he led German troops into Sudetenland when the region was annexed by Nazi Germany. He was promoted to the rank of generaloberst (colonel general) immediately before he led Army Group North to participate in the invasion of Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, and France; at the conclusion of the Poland invasion, he was awarded the Knight's Cross (30 Sep). Bock was one of the many German professional military men who despised Nazism but, also like many others, decided against protesting the Nazi genocide (he did, however, file a complaint by means of his subordinate later, during his tenure in Russia); this marked a dark spot on his conscience, but it also guaranteed a good career in the Nazi-controlled German Army. He reached the pinnacle of his career on 19 Jul 1940 when he was named field marshal. In Oct that year he became the commander-in-chief of all German forces in Poland.
ww2dbaseDuring Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia, Bock was charged with capturing Moscow. His troops routed Russian defenses at Minsk and Smolensk in summer 1941 and prepared to move for Moscow, but from Berlin Adolf Hitler decided to pull part of his troops for action in Leningrad and Kiev, which delayed Bock's move against Moscow until October. This delay put him at the mercy of the brutal Russian winter, which expectedly put Bock's advances to a near-halt when he reached as close as about 20 miles to Moscow. Many of his men, equipped with nothing heavier than fall jackets, froze in the -22º F weather and unable to counter the offensive mounted by Russian Georgi Zhukov. Hitler, ignoring the weather factor, blamed the missed opportunity to capture Moscow on Bock, and replaced him with Gunther von Kluge on 12 Dec 1941; Bock was installed as the head of Army Group South a month later. Army Group South was charged with taking the oil fields at the Caucasus. He was removed from that position on 15 July 1942 after his progress slowed, and retired from the German Army.
ww2dbaseEarly in 1944, Bock's newphew Colonel Henning von Tresckow approached him to solicit his support for a scheme to overthrow Hitler. Bock refused out of his professionalism, but he did not alarm the Gestapo. When the conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler and failed, Bock publicly denounced the assassination attempt as a crime.
ww2dbaseOn 3 May 1945, during an Allied air raid on Hamburg, Bock sustained serious injuries. He died in the naval military hospital at Oldenburg on the next day. His wife Wilhelmine and daughter were also killed during that attack.
ww2dbaseSources: DHM, the Jewish Virtual Library, Spartacus Educational, Wikipedia.
Fedor von Bock Timeline
|3 Dec 1880||Fedor von Bock was born.|
|12 Oct 1939||Fedor von Bock was appointed the commanding officer of the German Army Group B (Heeresgruppe B).|
|17 Dec 1941||Fedor von Bock was relieved as the commander-in-chief of German Army Group Center; the official reason was health concerns.|
|18 Jan 1942||Feldmarschall Fedor von Bock succeeded Walther von Reichenau as the head of German Armeegruppe Süd fighting in Ukraine.|
|1 Jun 1942||Hitler traveled to Poltava to confer with Feldmarschall von Bock on the next offensive.|
|13 Jul 1942||Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, commanding officer of German Army Group South, was fired from his command by Wilhelm Keitel for moving two Panzer divisions to assist the embattled 9th Panzer without Hitler's direct authority.|
|4 May 1945||Fedor von Bock passed away.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935